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What cooking gadgets changed your life?... Well at least your cooking?

I seldom use my big immersion blender, but I have a tiny stick blender that gets used almost every day. It fits nicely into a single cup or glass and mixes instant teas, hot chocolate, soup, etc. for single servings. Great for keeping spouse and grandkids out of my hair while I make dinner.

Jan 27, 2015
elegraph in Cookware

Sides for Jambalaya and other dinner guest advice...

Relax and keep it simple. Entertaining isn't so much about the food as it is making your guests feel welcome and comfortable in your home. If you are relaxed it will put them at ease. If something goes wrong, laugh it off and move on. Do serve a dessert (even if it isn't entirely home-made) and coffee. Let the evening come to a natural end. Take a deep breath and plan to do it again soon.

Jan 24, 2015
elegraph in Home Cooking

Fellow Diner, You Want to do WHAT to My Table?!

Unbelievable! Rudeness knows no bounds. Good for you for objecting!

Coconut Milk Ice cream Hardness Help!

Agree! Keep it simple. Coconut milk adds a delightful creaminess to a basic vanilla ice cream recipe. Forget the additives.

Jan 17, 2015
elegraph in Home Cooking

Buffet - Quantity Planning

Your menu sounds great! However, you have 3 main dishes plus the red beans and rice and maque choux. How about a Mardi Gras colored cole slaw (made with white and purple cabbage and shredded carrots)?

I would plan on 35-40 guests attending, and 1 11x15" pan of each, or about 20 servings of each, plus the sandwiches. People eat less than you expect them to and none of these dishes will freeze well if left over.

Let us know how it turns out.

Jan 17, 2015
elegraph in General Topics

Meatless Meals

Spinach and artichoke lasagna
Linguine with fresh veggies and a cheesy cream sauce
Curried lentil soup with a green salad and roti
Chickpea ratatouille over brown rice
Minestrone (soup with pasta and beans)
Pasta (like farfalle) with spicy tomatoes and black beans
Black bean quesadillas
Vegetable quiche
Vegetable lo mein and basmati rice
Baked beans and cornbread with a green salad
Spaghetti and marinara sauce with garlic toast
Classic spaghetti carbonara

Jan 15, 2015
elegraph in Home Cooking

A restarutant trend that should die in 2015:

As a restaurant owner I can tell you there are several possible reasons for a so-called secret menu. Chances are good that the chef hates preparing that particular item but will bow to a customer request if the ingredients are on hand. Chances are equally good that the markup on the secret item isn't enough to be profitable and the chef doesn't think upping the price will improve sales.

Then, too, in this age of social media, food trucks, etc., some restaurants offer a secret special for a limited time as a marketing gimmick. Everyone likes to be in on the secret, right? And it's entirely possible the chef is trying out a potential new menu item and wants to gauge customer response before ramping up production for the general public.

We have several items that have been removed from the menu which a few customers still ask for. (Not enough to justify the menu space.) If we have the ingredients on hand we will serve that item to anyone who asks.

FYI: Our kitchen staff is slightly offended when customers order something not on the menu or a special variation on something that is. "We have a 6-page menu, can't they find something they like the way we serve it?" Good question.

Jan 08, 2015
elegraph in Not About Food

How do you pronounce 'bruschetta'?

We've had more than one president who said "nuke-you-ler."

Jan 06, 2015
elegraph in Not About Food

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)

When my 4 kids were still at home, I wish I'd had a sign that said:
"You have two choices for dinner tonight. Take it or leave it." That was pretty much my policy. Doesn't seem to have harmed any of them.

Jan 06, 2015
elegraph in Not About Food

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)

Here in Wisconsin we say, "It's Noon somewhere!"

Jan 06, 2015
elegraph in Not About Food

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)

This is a self-cleaning kitchen.
You clean it yourself.

Eggs all Taste The Same to Me

Our family owns a small restaurant and we, too, cook a lot of eggs. Double yolks aren't at all uncommon in our commercially produced eggs. The color of the yolks is determined primarily by the feed; local organic egg producers add marigold flowers to the feed to produce nice, orange yolks. There is little difference in taste or nutrition.

Jan 02, 2015
elegraph in General Topics

Corkage fee at retail shop/winebar

As a small independent restaurant owner I think this practice is egregious. Liquor laws vary by state, but we allow patrons to bring their own bottles of wine for dinner and charge a small corkage fee for dispensing it. (The nominal fee is intended to cover the nominal cost of providing clean glasses.) We offer wine for sale by the glass or by the bottle and we do not charge a fee for dispensing the bottles customers purchase from us. We are also allowed to send opened bottles home with them if we re-cork them and supply a receipt for their purchase, again at no extra charge. Personally, I wouldn't patronize a wine bar with a corkage fee.

Jan 02, 2015
elegraph in Wine

How do you pronounce your foreign food phrases?

I do the best I can to pronounce foreign menu items correctly and if I don't know how, I will ask. But I hate-hate-HATE to be corrected by the server. Ex. #1, I ordered "broosketta" and was told to pronounce it "brushetta". According to my research, either is "correct" as it is pronounced one way in the north of Italy and the other way in the south. Ex. #2 I ordered Potatoes Lyonnaise and was corrected by the server who pronounced it "Lion-aise." For once in my life I was speechless. I can accept correction, but you damn well better be right when you do it.

What do you not order in restaurants...

I avoid anything I suspect is purchased frozen from the vendor and reheated to order. I once ordered Chicken Kiev in a steakhouse ... big mistake. Lesson learned.

I also avoid cooked carrots and wild rice sides because they never seem to be properly cooked. I seldom order mashed potatoes because I can make instant mashed potatoes at home if that's what I'm hungry for.

I wouldn't order meat loaf or pot roast because I cook them often enough at home.

I seldom order dessert, unless it's a house specialty prepared from scratch. That's getting harder to find with all the pre-prepared cheesecakes etc. available to restaurants. Very profitable if not exactly fresh.

Dec 22, 2014
elegraph in General Topics

credit and debit charges

Our family's restaurant pays both percentage and transaction fees plus a monthly equipment lease charge. The last time I checked, accepting credit cards costs us $00.26 per customer, regardless of how they pay.( Average check is around $10.00.) This cost gets passed on to all customers through annual menu price adjustments.

Dec 21, 2014
elegraph in Not About Food

National Fruitcake Day

By the way, it's true that properly prepared fruitcake can last for years. My daughter and I were rooting through a box of mementoes from my wedding 20-some years earlier and came across a small slice of fruitcake wrapped in plastic and sealed in a tiny gift box my MIL had made to give each guest. I unwrapped it and it looked and smelled good -- so I ate it. It was delicious!

Dec 21, 2014
elegraph in General Topics

What did you/would you eat the morning of your wedding?

I had a 2 pm wedding and I was far too nervous and excited to eat anything for breakfast. My dad fixed me a cup of chicken noodle soup for lunch and I could barely force any of it down. I lasted just fine until our reception dinner at 4 pm.

Dec 21, 2014
elegraph in General Topics

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

I'm not sure what "rolled back" means but I disagree totally with the directions; wild rice should be cooked until it pops (opens like popcorn) which is soft/chewy and full-flavored. I learned this method from a French-Canadian friend from I-Falls Minnesota:

Pour a full package of rinsed wild rice into bottom of 9x13 baking pan. Cover with boiling water (or chicken stock) to a depth 1/2-inch greater than the rice. Seal with foil and place in preheated 500-degree oven for 1 hour. After this time the water should be fully absorbed and the rice fully popped and ready to serve or add to your recipe. You can portion and freeze the remaining rice for future use.

You can also buy canned (cooked) wild rice from Canoe, another Minnesota Ojibwe-owned company, and when you drain it, it will look and taste the same.

Dec 21, 2014
elegraph in General Topics

ISO, $10.00 Red Holiday Wine

For something different, how about a nice New England cranberry wine? Plymouth Winery makes one, I'm sure there are others.

Dec 20, 2014
elegraph in Wine

quiche questions

I bake quiche in a water bath for more even cooking. If your cookie sheet is deep enough, pour in some hot water when you place it in the oven. The quiche is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it rest a few minutes before you cut into it.

Dec 19, 2014
elegraph in Home Cooking

Holiday Reads to Give & Get for Chowhounds

Yes -- enjoyed it but not as much as Tender.

Dec 17, 2014
elegraph in Food Media & News

Holiday Reads to Give & Get for Chowhounds

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichel

Dec 16, 2014
elegraph in Food Media & News

Enough televised cooking competitions!

or gardening on the Home and Garden channel.

Dec 16, 2014
elegraph in Food Media & News

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

This information on Lundberg's wild rice blend is from their website:

Ingredients
Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Whole Grain Wehani® Rice, Whole Grain Black Japonica™ Rice.

The mix contains both wild rice and japonica rice. The wild rice is probably cultivated.

Dec 15, 2014
elegraph in General Topics

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

You are correct that wild rice is a grain, not a rice; however, most commercially sold wild rice is cultivated, not truly wild. Wild rice harvesting belongs exclusively to the Ojibwe tribes (Minnesota, Wisconsin, parts of Canada) and permits are required. True wild rice is sold by Ojibwe-run operations, requires a long cooking time, and is expensive so is not as commercially viable as the cultivated version. The taste is far superior and if you get ahold of some, don't mess it up with other grains and rices.

Dec 15, 2014
elegraph in General Topics
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2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

Spicy Remoulade Sauce:
½ c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. dill relish
1 Tbsp. horseradish
1 tsp. Sriracha
½ tsp. Cajun Seasoning (I use Penzey's)
1/8 tsp. Cayenne (opt., for added heat)
Juice from half a lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dec 15, 2014
elegraph in Home Cooking
1

2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

This looks like a great solution -- so much simpler -- and I will try it this week. Thanks for posting!

Dec 14, 2014
elegraph in Home Cooking

2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

I've been cooking for many, many years (self taught) so it's fun for me to try new things. The other night I roasted a duck for the first time and it turned out great. Husband requested that I make the orange glaze again the next time I roast a chicken.

I also learned to grill chicken pieces and thick, lean pork chops to perfection. Compliments from said husband, who doesn't seem to mind being replaced at the grill now and then.

I made the classic scallops dish, Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratinéed Scallops)from Saveur Magazine, even serving them on real scallop shells handed down from MIL. It was fun but I personally found them far too rich for today's healthier taste.

I cooked with ground lamb for the first time. I can't remember what I made but I wasn't impressed. In 2015 (summer) I will try cooking lamb chops or shoulder. The lambs are raised on a farm nearby and the meat is quite expensive but the freshness is worth it.

I smoked a trout (steelhead?) in my Coleman stove-top smoker and made the leftovers into smoked trout chowder and a smoked trout and cream cheese spread; both were delicious. Also a bit rich so not for every day.

I made shrimp po-boys for the first time and found a killer remoulade to go with them. They are now part of our regular repertoire. I wasn't as lucky with fish tacos, which were also a new endeavor. Breading and frying fish is a lot of work and a big mess, and the result wasn't that impressive.

For our weekly meatless days I fixed a spinach-artichoke lasagne which I loved but spouse wasn't sure about. He had to ask what the artichokes were and I think he was uncertain if he should like them or not. But I will repeat that recipe or use the same sauce over linguine some time and he may like it better as it becomes more familiar.

I'm glad you asked the question in this post because I feel like I cook the same things over and over, but I see I've expanded my horizons, along with my waistline, by trying lots of new things this year.

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

Neither should be creamy or sticky. Try cooking them a few minutes longer.

Dec 14, 2014
elegraph in General Topics